Saturday, 28 December 2013

Pre-Christmas panic

A few weeks before Christmas I received an e-mail from a lovely lady who had accepted the unenviable mission of finding a piece of artwork for the communal lobby of the office building her company is based at in central London. The site was a 7 meter long wall opposite the elevators in the modern buildings elegant entrance lobby. Not only did the piece need to suit the space, but also the style needed to be agreed upon by the many companies who also share the building.
Her CEO had seen my artwork at The Sofa and Chair company and particularly like Urban Wetlands at Night. They realised that the original didn't have the scale they needed to fill the space and asked me if it would be possible to make additional panels. When I went to measure up it became clear that the most suitable option was to start from scratch and create a triptych. On paper the perfect sizes were two end canvases 1.5m wide by 1.75m High and a central canvas of 2.65m wide by 1.75m high. I came up with a couple of solutions for my client, but she agreed with my assessment and we went with the triptych described.

For the first time I had to go hunting for studio space as my workshop was woefully too small..... and cold....and dark (actually this was no new discovery and I had been waiting for the planets to come into alignment for my bank manager to grant me funds for a new studio, but that's the next blog story!). I discovered that this is not an easy task to find space, light and a reasonably controlled environment for less than top rental prices! Not surprising there is precious little available in Worthing and what there is is aimed more at the "cleaner" artists who work on smaller pieces at an easel or desk. Then there is the issue of finding somewhere with access - for loading large heavy objects straight out onto a vehicle, but also big enough doors to get the work out through! It was looking more and more like I was headed for big rental prices in Brighton with many journeys back and forth. Then a friend on Facebook mentioned a new gallery opening  with large studio rental space at the back- I called Siobhan, the gallery owner, and asked if they still had studio space to rent? Yes? Fantastic! I shot down there and put down my deposit! Siobhan and her partner Danny really couldn't have been more helpful or welcoming - supplying cups of tea, mince pies and even a glass of mulled wine :)

I had my materials delivered to the studio then humped all of my tools down there. The wood for the panels arrived first thing and 4 days of frame construction began. I was really glad that the permanent  space renter wasn't there whilst I had my power tools out making a racket! I have to work on the backs too as  I always seal and finish both sides of the panels to help protect against warping and give a nice finish to them, but even in a good sized space it's  a challenge to flip and turn nearly 5 sq meters of mdf and wooden frame!

It took me just under 2 weeks of painting and drying time. Then a local courier with his 2 burly assistants arrived and vary carefully loaded them onto his van and took them up to the Sofa and Chair warehouse. A couple of hours later I set off up to London myself and met John from the warehouse at the site. We unloaded the art quickly and John kept an eye out for evil christmas traffic wardens whilst I fixed the hangers to the wall. John helped me hang the large central piece (with a couple of scary moments and a final hug of relief when we knew it was straight and not going anywhere) then he went on his way and left me to get on with hanging the final two. No parking tickets and all 3 were hanging solidly AND straight AND in time for the visiting CEO of the company to see them before flying back out of the country the same day.......a minor christmas miracle in my mind!